Websites That Drive Customers Crazy

The other day I had nearly finished purchasing an item on a retail website, and I couldn’t find the Continue or Next (or even Purchase) button. The only button on the page was labeled Add More. I didn’t want to add a second item; I wanted to purchase my first item.

When I called the store for assistance, they explained that the Add More button had the exact same function as Continue or Next. I always encourage creative content, but not when it interferes with the expectations of customers who are sure to believe that “Add More” means…add more.

One way to find out if your website is driving customers crazy is to ask yourself if you would patronize a company whose website worked and sounded like yours. Another way is to ask your customers what bothers them. Yet another way is to ask your help desk staff because they must answer the same questions from irritable customers all day long. Here are four sure ways to drive customers crazy:

  • Use popups that pop up right over the item the customer is most interested in. If the dismissal button is obvious, irritation is short lived; but many video popups are impossible to exit until the entire video finishes. Customers might very well decide to leave the page and the site rather than be held captive. Constant music or sound effects also risk driving customers away.
  • Don’t check your internal and external website links. Customers are driven crazy by links that don’t work. If you haven’t checked the links on your website for a while, please check them now. Please.
  • Change your content midway through the website. On the website for one IT service company, a free offer changed scope from page to page. Inconsistencies confuse customers but also send the message that you overlook details, even important ones like what exactly you are giving away.
  • Refuse to communicate. First, hide your contact information. Then give the phone number as a word (1-800-DONTCALL) that has to be translated into numbers. And when the customer calls the number, provide only three or four extremely narrow options, with no possibility of selecting “other.” So by the time the customer reaches a live person, the customer is already livid.

When you drive your customers crazy with your website, you lose money, whether through constant calls to your help desk, lost sales, costly mistakes in content, lost repeat customers or high employee stress and turnover.

A website review by TWP Marketing & Technical Communications examines your website page by page, item by item, to make sure that the content is clear, accurate and interesting and that everything works. This cost-effective solution helps keep your relationship with customers positive from first click to last. Contact us today.

 

6 Biggest Writing Mistakes

1. Turning your writing into a vocabulary test. Most small words have more energy than big ones and communicate faster. While some multi-syllable words can’t be avoided (“multi-syllable” being a good example), many of them are simply barriers to clear, passionate writing–for example, utilize, capability, and actionable.

2. Forgetting your audience. You have a goal: to write about everything your company can do and has done, so that the world will be impressed enough to beat a path to your door. But your customers are not looking for a company that does everything for everyone; your customers are looking for a trustworthy solution to their specific problem. When you write, write to meet your customers’ goals.

3. Giving your audience too much credit. If your customers were as knowledgeable as you are, they wouldn’t need you. You have skills, experience, and tools that your customers lack. Slowly guide them to understanding what you offer, using words, pictures, examples, and comparisons they can easily grasp.

4. Failing to recognize the power of pictures. Use graphs, illustrations, videos, and photographs whenever you can to replace paragraphs and pages of description. A great layout can add just the right emphasis and eye-candy to attract customers; a professional graphic designer is well worth using.

5. Overlooking the need to organize. Websites are divided into pages; blogs into posts; white papers into sections; manuals into chapters. Each of those divisions should have a single subject. If, for example, I shifted gears mid-way through this blog post to explain how to write a press release, you would be justifiably confused. It’s okay if your first draft is a brain dump. But then you have to organize the material so that it flows–and delete what doesn’t belong.

6. Falling in love with your own words. Set aside anything you write for at least 24 hours, then proofread, proofread, proofread and edit, edit, edit. Until you examine what you wrote with a fresh eye, you have no way of knowing if you truly communicated.

Sharon Bailly is the founder of TWP Marketing & Technical Communications which helps companies reach their customers online and in print. Our words mean business.

Freelance Writing: Why I Write

From the moment I could hold a pen, I started writing–before I could spell a word, I scribbled. At first, the lure was tactile: the smooth flow of ink on paper, the thought that someday my ideas might be enshrined forever and ever on that clean white sheet.

As time went on, another factor entered into my love of writing: communication. Here was a way I could say what I wanted to say, in the exact words and with the exact feelings that were so hard to find at a moment’s notice. Writing gave me the time and freedom to say what needed to be said. Unfortunately, it those days, my writing hero was Charles Dickens, and it took me a while to learn that clear communication required–well, clear writing: short, exact words; short sentences; crisp pacing.

Finally, I discovered that the ability to communicate clearly in writing held value for other business owners in other industries. They valued good writing for its ability to connect them with their customers; but they were inventors, builders, thinkers, managers and sellers, not writers. They needed my skill.

After 20+ years working for technical companies and technical publications, I moved to New Hampshire and became a freelance writer, branching out to help not only my old employers but companies in the retail, construction, service, financial, energy, medical and green industries.

As a freelance writer, I help businesses reach their customers and help customers find the solutions they need. My writing grows businesses, connects individuals and solves problems. What more could I want?

5 Top Reasons Why Writing Is Still Important

Reason 1: We all write. Whether we call it blogging, tweeting, emailing, or “content,” it is still writing.

Reason 2: We can say some pretty awful things if we aren’t careful. We can misspell “vision” as “version” or “manager” as “manger” or misuse “compliment” when we mean “complement” or “they’re” when we mean “their”–which results in “Our corporate version inspires our mangers and compliments they’re strengths.”

Reason 3: We can undermine our own message. As I’ve mentioned before, some words weaken messages, including “can,” “simply,” “of course,” “approximately in the range of,” and “not.” If something is worth saying, it’s worth saying with conviction.

Reason 4: Customers deserve clarity, and businesses benefit from it. When customers must work to understand what a business is saying, they quickly give up. That means customers don’t find the solutions they need, and businesses don’t get the business they need.

Writing is important. For me, good writing is a passion. Let TWP Marketing & Technical Communications show you the way to clear, strong, accurate and passionate writing.

Put Your Marketing Message in FOCUS

Whenever a website or brochure begins with a list of all the services and products the company offers, I cringe. Lists don’t tell me, the consumer, what I most need to know: can this company solve my problem? From the company’s perspective, of course, the difficulty is in figuring out which problem. And that’s where FOCUS comes into play.

FOCUS stands for friendliness, opportunity, currency, up-selling and satisfaction. Every marketing message needs FOCUS:

Friendliness: Think of times you’ve wades through someone’s list of products and services searching for the exact one that addresses your problem; or you were treated to hundreds of words about how great a company is without ever quite understanding what the company does. When you focus your message, you guide your customers quickly to the information they need–and they are grateful.

Opportunity: What do most of your customers ask for most often? What complaints do they make most frequently about your competition? Your marketing message should focus on those gaps and explain how you’ll fill them.

Currency: We all need to make an income. What product or service brings you a steady income you can live with? That one deserves top billing in your marketing message.

Up-selling: Sometimes the item customers want most is not the item that brings you the most income (or satisfaction). But it provides an opening for you to demonstrate your skill, forge a relationship and suggest other products and services.

Satisfaction: We do best what we enjoy most. When you find that sweet spot where your customer’s needs match what you like to do, then you have a viable business and a very strong marketing message.

Do you need help to FOCUS your marketing message? Contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications; clear, focused writing is what we do.

Instant Jargon: How to Create Jargon in Your Spare Time and Lose Customers Instantly

Want to create instant jargon? It’s easy. Just think of a three-digit number and then select one item from each column below. You chose 134? You created Heuristic Reciprocal Programming. Congratulations!

What does it mean? Well, that’s the beauty of instant jargon. It can mean whatever you think it means. What do customers think it means? Unfortunately, customers  don’t have a clue. 

Baffle your friends, coworkers and most of all customers. Use instant jargon today–or better yet, contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications for alternatives that communicate accurately, concisely and clearly.